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Delfi acquires license to Van Houten chocolate brand for US$13m

MAINBOARD-listed Delfi Limited on Friday said it has entered an agreement to purchase the license to the Van Houten brand of chocolates and cocoa products from Hershey Singapore for US$13 million.

The deal which will be financed through internal resources, will see Delfi acquire the "exclusive and perpetual" rights to the brand in certain key markets in Asia and Oceania, including Australia and New Zealand.

Hershey, who had first acquired the said rights in 2009 from the owner of the Van Houten brand, Barry Callebaut, will retain its rights to the brand in South Korea, India and the territory of the Middle East.

In the Middle East and Asia, Barry Callebaut will also continue to use the Van Houten brand name in its B2B food service and vending mix businesses; and also retains all rights to the Van Houten brand outside of the Middle East and Asia, Delfi said in a filing with the Singapore Exchange.

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The company said its main priorities are "to further grow and strengthen the brand equity of Van Houten by expanding the current portfolio and by investing and innovating across a range of categories where it views strong future growth lies".

Moreover, Delfi intends to leverage on Van Houten's reputation as a mass premium brand to identify suitable products to extend its current offerings to consumers, it added.

Said Delfi chief executive officer John Chuang: "Van Houten will be an integral part of our portfolio and will see a significant level of management focus and investment into growing the brand across the region. Our objective is to build Van Houten into a truly regional consumer brand where we will further grow the brand in the current markets and we will leverage on the brand awareness of Van Houten to enter into other significant markets in Asia."

Van Houten has had a presence in Asia since the 1960's and the main markets for its chocolate products in the region are Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore with a small presence in the Philippines and Vietnam.

The transaction is not expected to have any material impact on the earnings per share of Delfi for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2018, Delfi said.

Its shares were trading S$0.02 or 1.4 per cent higher at S$1.5 at 9.42am.